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Maple Leafs not meeting with Patrick Kane, Bettman speaks, and the Salming Award: News and Notes
By Jon Steitzer3 months ago
The Maple Leafs didn’t take to the ice today. With the Global Series games underway for the Senators and Red Wings, the main ice was somewhat unavailable. That doesn’t mean that all is quiet with the Leafs or the NHL and there are a few updates worth passing along today.
There is a bit of a double whammy on the Leafs front here as Mats Sundin has presented the Borje Salming Courage Award. The always deserving Niklas Lidstrom was the recipient and the award recognizes the European NHL Alumni player who has made the most impact in the past year.
While the Global Series might get viewed as a bit of a gimmick on the NHL front it is nice to see the Maple Leafs get to celebrate their ties to Swedish hockey so much this past week with both the premiere of the Borje Salming film and the presentation of his namesake award. The amount of involvement from Mats Sundin in the past week both with connecting in with the team, speaking of his relationship with Max Domi, and now presenting this award, and it has also been nice to celebrate all things William Nylander while his is unquestionably in the prime of his career.
Regardless of what the results are in the next two games you’d hope that this will be a positive experience for the Maple Leafs and carries forward into the season when they return to North America.
I don’t think this is a “well which one is it John, are they interested or not?” type situation. I do take this as the Maple Leafs most likely being out on Patrick Kane or at the very least enough of a long shot to land him that we don’t need to discuss this in the future, but I wouldn’t doubt that the Leafs were considering kicking tires. It’s entirely possible that Patrick Kane pulled the plug on the conversation and shortlisted other teams instead or it’s entirely possible that the Leafs have assessed their own situation enough that they determined that another offence only winger is far down their priority list or that bringing another circus act into their locker room would go against their preferred direction.
There are a lot of reasons to say no to signing Patrick Kane and while he might go on to have a productive season and maybe even play beyond this year, the risk doesn’t outweigh the potential reward in this situation and that’s just leaving it with the on-ice stuff.
Gary Bettman and Bill Daly speaking to the media is generally an exhausting exercise in misinformation and public relations. Absolutely every response either seems to lead you to believe they have no idea what they are doing or that they are purposefully hiding something.
That said, the 2025 February World Cup has been floated for some time and even though the last one was heavier on the flaws than worthwhile international competition, it doesn’t mean that the idea should be completely abandoned and with such a huge gap since the last best on best mens international hockey tournament, it’s hard to ignore some level of intrigue with the idea of an NHL led tournament.
The 2026 Olympics will continue to be something bargained on heavily with the NHLPA and presumably once the union has made concessions the NHL will begin discussions with the IOC and IIHF before deeming the idea unfeasible. (Sorry that is cynicism from the last few times we’ve gone down this road.)
The reality is the Olympics probably shouldn’t be as much of a bargaining focus for the NHLPA going forward and rather they should be letting the NHL convince them of why they should be involved in the World Cup. It won’t work that way but nevertheless international hockey is back on the NHL’s radar.
The format of the NHL Draft isn’t going to impact most fans, just those who like the idea of traveling for NHL events vs. those who like team centric events in the team’s city. There are also differing views on what is best for the teams and the sport. Brian Burke has suggested that interesting trades and the draft’s most memorable moments will disappear, while most teams seem to be pushing for the fact that their ability to make informed decisions increases with remote war rooms. It’s going to be wild when teams figure out they could potentially do both, but for now this is just the Draft remaining in limbo.
Again this is something of a non-update and with most things player safety related it will unfortunately not get pushed for by the league or the NHLPA as the NHL remains in reactive instead of proactive mode and the players association isn’t likely to get enough buy-in from their membership to protect themselves.
I wouldn’t hold my breath on either side pushing for change but I can’t see either side dying on this hill in negotiations either. It seems like taking immediate action to grandfather this in for any player drafted this year and into the future would be mandated to wear a neck protector but we’ll see this drag out for a while despite Kadian Guhle catching a skate in the head this week.
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